The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, 21 Jan, 1956 : Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech

The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, 21 Jan, 1956 : Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech

The Constituent Assembly’ of Pakistan met in the Assembly Chamber, with the Honorable Deputy Speaker, the Honorable Mr. C. E. Gibbon in the Chair to discuss equality of all citizens in Islamic state.

The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, 21 Jan, 1956 : Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speech [ Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib - second from left, bottom row - in the cabinet of A. K. Fazlul Huq in East Bengal, 1954 ]
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib – second from left, bottom row – in the cabinet of A. K. Fazlul Huq in East Bengal, 1954
Honorable Deputy Speaker:

It is most unfortunate and regrettable that Mr. Farid Ahmad should have made in his speech such references to an Honorable Member. I would like to encourage Honorable Members to respect on another (Hear, hear) and this objective will not be attained if Members in their speeches use such nasty personal references against one another.

Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish:

Thank you.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Speaker: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (East Bengal : Muslim) :

Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, my Honourable friend, Mr. Farid Ahmad, has delivered a speech supporting the consideration of the Bill and opposing the motion of MR. Abul Mansur Ahmad.

Sir, I want to say something about the Draft Constitution that-has been laid before the House for consideration by the Honourable Mr. I. I. Chundrigar. Sir, this Draft Constitution is the embodiment of down-right treachery and sheer bluff. It begins with the name of “Constitution for Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” Sir, we want to make an Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The name is already here. May I ask a question from my Nizam-i-Islam friends, particularly and from the members of the United Front, whether a non-Muslim can preside over the Constituent Assembly to frame an Islamic Constitution or not?

Sir, I have respect for you. It is, I think and 1 feet, that my country has given a non-Muslim the responsibility for the little while over this sovereign body and to frame a constitution for a over seven crores of the people of Pakistan, but we have started in the name of Allah, but, Sir, when we are going to make an Islamic Constitution I ask whether a non-Muslim who does not believe in La illaha Illallah Muhammadur Rasulallah, who does not believe in the last Prophet of Allah, can preside over such a constitution-making body as ours?

I know that I will get an answer from the Holy Quran or from the Sunnah or from the history of Islam or from the history of the Muslim Rule.

(Interruption by an Honourable Member.)
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman :

If they say, then I have nothing to say, but I think it is an insult to speak in this fashion. We are all Pakistanis. Call everybody, every citizen, a Pakistani, irrespective of whether he is a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or a Buddhist. Pakistan is for Pakistanis. Pakistan has not been formed for the Muslims alone. My friend says: “We want to make a constitution for all the Muslims of the world.” All right, then, why are you not making a constitution for the 50 crores of Muslims of the entire world?

You have the monopoly because we the Pakistanis are Muslims, but there are Muslims in India, Muslims in Indonesia, we have Muslims in Iraq, in Egypt and in Turkey and at other places. Muslims are not only in Pakistan. Then why should their constitution be confined to the Muslims of Pakistan alone, it should be for the Muslims of the world, as if you have a monopoly from Allah that you would make a constitution for the whole Muslim World?

Why to make constitution for every other community in Pakistan, so that there should be two House-one for the Muslims and another for the minorities, or say five or six House, for also Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, etc., each having one House for themselves. But you are making an Islamic Constitution. My friends say: ‘Oh, Islamic’, but Islam means justice; Islam means equity; Islam means fair play; Islam means equal distribution of wealth among the people according to the needs of the individual.

My friend of the united front says that they cannot. They want to bluff the people of Pakistan in the name of Islam. This is only a label and not the ideal. They have exploited the masses of Pakistan for the last seven or eight years in the name of Islam, in the name of Rassulullah.

If they are sincere and honest to Islam, let them give an Islamic Constitution based on equity and justice where equal distribution of wealth is assured.

Mr. Fazlur Rahman (East Bengal: Muslim):

On a point of privilege. The sponsor of the Bill should have been here to listen to the speeches on the motion before the House. His absence is a great disrespect of the house.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

How does that constitute a point of Privilege involved?

Mr. Fazlur Rahman:

The dignity of the House is involved. The sponsor of the Bill should have been here to listen to the speeches so that he may have been in a position to answer the points that are being raised. He should have shown that amount of respect to this Honourable House.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

What is the breach of privilege involved?

Mr. Fazlur Rahman:

“Privilege” is the dignity of the house.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

Mr. Mujibur Rahman.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

I was speaking of the supposed Islamic Constitution. It is a level here and not the ideal that we cherish. You have seen the fundamental rights embodied in this draft Bill. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that every constitution of the world lays down provisions which forbid the government of the day to interfere with fundamental rights. However, in the fundamental rights enumerated in our draft Constitution, we have a serious handicap. They are subordinate to the whims of the government of the day.

Today the Muslim League and the united front party are in power but tomorrow some other party may assume the control of the executive power of the country and they may or they may not show respect to these fundamental rights because ample powers have been given to the government to violate these provisions of fundamental rights. Such a Government may curtail the rights of the people and restrict their liberty.

All constitutions of democratic countries contain an inviolable provision whereby the government of the day cannot encroach on the fundamental rights of the inhabitants of that country.

The fundamental rights are beyond the reach of the Government of the day. Let us examine all that we, have provided in respect of fundamental rights: there will be freedom of assembly, association and all that, but these are made subject to such restrictions as may be imposed by the Government for “Public order”. There is that well known plea: “in the interest of Pakistan”? Which can be utilized by the Government of the day what is the ‘interest of Pakistan’? and what is “public order”?

We know what crimes they have committed on the plea of “interest of Pakistan” and “public order”: they have oppressed people; they have detained persons and they have utilized people for corruption, nepotism and bribery on the excuse of “public order”. They have used these pleas to suppress their political opponents. By way of illustration I draw your attention to clause 9 of the draft Bill:

“Every citizen shall he the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, subject to any restrictions imposed by law in the interest of public order”. If every citizen, I ask, has a right to assemble without arms, how can there be any apprehension of violation of public order?

All the generous provisions of fundamental rights have the appendage of “public order: and in the interest of Pakistan”. These provisions show the tendency of the farmers of the draft Constitution. Wherever they are giving a right to the people by on clause you will find an corresponding provision by which they take back all’ they give. That is very interesting. Mr. Deputy Speaker, you must have read many Constitutions but I am sure you would not have come across such a thing.

We would like to remind the Honourable Member of the House through you of the provisions of Quran and Sunna in relation to justice: nobody without trial. If I committed a sin, I will be sent to hell-after proer. If I have done well, I shall be sent to heaven-after trail. Let us see what this “Islamic Constitution” provides: anybody can be detained without trial “in the interest of public order and Pakistan”.

Sir, there are courts; there are laws in force and if anybody is to be punished he must be punished after proper trial. We have already noticed that during the last seven years members of this august House have been detained without trial. An Honourable Member of this house goes to East Bengal and he is detained under Public Safety Act-“in the interest of Pakistan” You should not ignore the basic fact that an Honourable Member of this house represents ten lakhs of people.

Mr. Farid Ahmed cannot refute this. I have got documents in my possession to support my point. Then take the case of Mr. Abdus Samad, M.L.A., Kh. Azizur Rahman. M.L.A, Abdul Mannah and others.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: We are taking up the case. You need not refer to it at this stage.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: I am only illustrating the use of “in the interest of Pakistan.” How they curtailed the liberties of the people?

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Please talk in general terms. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: In this way, Sir, the Baluchistan leader, Mr. Abdus Samad, has been arrested under the Frontier Crimes Act. He is “anti-Pakistani” because he has gone against the One-Unit scheme.

I had no intention of referring to the 21-point Programme but for the reference made to it by Mr. Farid Ahmad. He said that was an election manifesto and you cannot talk of Constitution at the time of provincial elections. I say, you have to do it. You can give a thesis to the people so that they understand thing; you can give them some points. I challenge him no. Unfortunately he has been defeated in the District Board as well.

He said that people have not voted for 21-Point Programme. You should know that 3,000 people of East Bengal have suffered because they were anxious to give this provision in the manifesto that nobody will be detained without trial; there will be no Safety Act. I say that if anybody is against Pakistan, produce him before a court. If you adopt this approach I can assure that everybody will support you. What you intend to do-put the political rival in the jail!

I challenge my Honourable friends to quote a single injunction in Islam whereby a man may be permitted to hold ten or fifteen lakh acres of land and simultaneously another Mussulman may die of” starvation on the streets of Karachi and Dacca. Can they show an injunction in Islam? Can they produce anything to support them in their feudalism of jagirdaris and zamindaries;

“Nobody can take the property of a zamindar with our providing compensation”? Who will give the compensation-the people who have tilled and toiled; to whom will the compensation be paid-to the people who have enjoyed in the name of Islam. How long will they bluff the people of Pakistan in the name of Islam? You are insulting Islam before the whole world. You are discrediting Islam. Can they prove that Islam means some people working in mils for Rs. 80 per month and other people going round the world squandering people’s money?

Islam means equal distribution of wealth. Do they contemplate distributing the wealth of the country to the poor cultivators? What do we find in the Punjab, Frontier and in Sind? You tour for a whole day and you see the property of one man. Whose property-Talpur’s property; whole property-Daultana’s property; Mian Iftikharuddin’s property. It is not hte property of the man who works on the field; it is not theproperty of the poor “Mussulman”.

It is not the property of that poor Mussulman who believes in La Ilaha-illallah-Muhammadur Rasul Ulla. They are the same Mussalmans. The rich “Mussalmans” are going to London and Paris and wasting the money of the people who work whole day.

Mr. Abdul Aleem (East Bengal: Muslim) :

That is why we want a constitution.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Will it be Islamic, Mr. Aleem, please let me know.

Mr. Abdul Aleem:

We want a constitution therefore.

Mr. Zahiruddin (East Bengal: Muslim):

That is why you want to protect them (the feudal lords).

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: I am sorry my friend has interrupted. You are giving protection to jagirdars, zumindars and big people. You are making constitution for the people of Pakistan. But the people of Pakistan will not accept it. Distribute the properties. It is clearly said by Islam that there should be equal distribution of wealth. The whole property should be equally distributed. We do not want that their properties should be confiscated; give them so much as they can live peacefully in their homes with their families.

Take their other properties and give it to the masses. Give them 10 big has or 10 or 5 acres. Work on the principles of Islam. Establish Islamic principles and philosophy and then speak about Islam. This is absolutely a mockery of Islam and democracy.

Here the chaprasi is getting Rs. 45 per month while the head of the State gets 1,000 rupees per month. Is this Islamic State? What our Khalifas took in the Islamic State, what was the expenditure of our Khalifas; what Hazrat Muhammad (Sallallaho-alaihe-wasallam) took from the public Exchequer? He did not spend a single penny from the state funds.

Mr. Abdul Aleem:

We will do it gradually.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

My friends call me a Communist. I cannot understand how they call me a Communist. I am a Mussulman.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

Why do you take notice of what they are saying? Please carry on.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

About East Bengal I know the position. He has come by the backdoor and next time he will get proof of that Insha-Allah. Here there is Zamindari system, you know. Then you know who suffered for Pakistan the poor refugees but where they are living and what is their position. Big properties and lands have been left by Hindu and Sikh Landlords and zamindars. But these properties have been taken away by the landlords coming from India, who were a privileged class.

That land has not been equitably distributed among poor masses that are living in Lalookhet and near the Mazar of Quaid-i-Azam. I do not know weather the Quid-i-Azam’s soul is in peace or not, for them. They have no shelter; they have no land, why do not you distribute that land according to Islamic tenants?

Do not do mockery to Islam, give them to the people. But you would not give these lands to people because you want satisfy the privileged classes as you have to depend on privileged classes to govern this country. Although the condition of masses and refugees is so poor, these landlords have been given safeguards, in the constitution.

We cannot change the constitution every now and then and how can you give lands to poor refugees and masses or to poor cultivators, who are also Muslims, better Muslims than these big people. They believe in Allah and say their prayers.

How many rich people say their prayers I do not know but I have seen poor masses saying their prayers all rights, Whether they have got their jainamaz or not. You are making a Islamic constitution and you talk of Islamic ways but what you are giving in one way you are taking away in another way, and the poor masses have to suffer most.

Now, they talk of Islam and Islamic way but what they will do in case of Judiciary-they will endeavour to separate, how silly it looks, it may take 25 years, it is all vague, there should be categorical provision in the constitution. Then what they have done is that a Judge of a High Court can be transferred from one province to the other. Now Executive wants to control the Judiciary, is this Islamic constitution? I want to know what was the position of the Qazz’?

Even the Khalifa had to ho in front of the Qazi for the charges. That is Islamic constitution, but here we want to separate Judiciary from the Executive. God knows in how many years; it may take 25 years! It may be after our death. They say “The State shall endeavour to separate Judiciary form the Executive as soon as possible”. Is this according to the wishes of the people of Pakistan? In every constitution you will find that Judiciary has been separated from the executive.

Here the ruling junta and the privileged classes want to keep power intact in their own hands. Can you expect justice in such conditions where the Executive wants to control the Judiciary? Now they will say we will transfer you from Lahore to Dhaka and from Dhaka to Lahore. This is a new thing that have done that the High Court Judges can be transferred from this province to that.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

What part of the constitution have you jumped to?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

I am speaking about Judiciary, It you want to know the provision I can give you.

The Honourable Mr. Hamidul Huq Chowdhury (East Bengal:Muslim):

Transfer of Judiciary is the function of the Executive.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Not without the permission of the President, I know.

The Honourable Mr. Hamidul Huq Chowdhury:

It is clause 30, you want to delete it.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Please carry on.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Now, Sir, about Islamic language. What is the language of Islam, Sir, Arabic, Urdu, Persian or Bengali. What is the language of the Mussulmans, who will judge it? My friend says Urdu. I would say Bengali. Persians will say Persian. Turks will say Turkish. Indonesians will say Indonesian. Other people will say their own language. Sir, why this vague thing. What is this draft? Two official languages?

And the Provincial Government and Central Government will try to make a national language. Here is provision for official language and here is provision for national language. One of my honourable friend, a member of this House, who is the Foreign Minister, told in Dacca that this means State language. Then, why there is still need for national language. He wants to bluff the people of East Bengal and the people of West Pakistan.

The Honourable Mr. Hamidul Huq Chowdhury:

Official language means state language.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Oficial language does not mean state language. Official language means official language. If that is not so, why there is this provision about national language in Article 31, which reads: “It shall be the duty of the Federal and Provincial Governments to take all possible measures for the development and growth of a national language.” What is national language and what is official language, is it not a bluff, Sir? You have recognized two languages but Article 31 talks of development of a national language.

Sir, you know the whole history. West Pakistan is not against Bengali becoming state language. I have visited Lahore, I have gone to people in Karachi, in Peshawar and Rawalpindi and I find that people as a whole are not against Bengali becoming State language because the people of East Bengal do not claim that there will be only one State language and that will be Bengali.

They do so because they know in Punjab they speak Punjabi language but Urdu is the medium of instruction and so is the case in frontier, where their language is Poshtu but the medium of traction is Urdu and so in Sind, the language is Sindhi but; dium of instruction is Urdu. Urdu-speaking people in Pakistan are less than Punjabi-speaking people but most of the people in West Pakistan receive instructions in Urdu.

We have’ told that people of East Bengal are not sectarian. Do not say that. Never have they declared that they want only one State language, that is Bengali, although they are 59 percent in the country and their medium of instruction is Bengali. They have asked for two State languages for Pakistan. They have sacrificed blood for this. Everybody whether Minister or Prime Minister who has been elected from East Bengal, has promised that he will make Bengali as one of the State languages.

Now, they want to go back on this for six minister ships. How long will you continue as Ministers? The history of Pakistan and the world is there. So many Ministers have come and gone. Mohammad AH Bogra has gone to Washington. Nazimuddin has gone and living at Clifton, so is Gulam Mohammad living at Clifton. Power is nobody’s monopoly. Power may come and power may go but the people will continue, the country will continue.

Sir, I want to draw your attention to the fact that fact that general people in West Pakistan are not against Bengali being declared as one of the State languages of Pakistan. It is only the ruling Junta that wants to show to the world that the people here are not agreeable to Bengali to be declared as the State language with Urdu and this they are doing to meet their own selfish ends. The United front people have betrayed the people of East Pakistan and they have betrayed their electorates.

Sir, you must have noticed that even in the Passport, Urdu has been used along with English. I ask who has allowed that to be done and if that was allowed, why not there also appeared Bengali as well. I ask this question: why have you used Urdu when it has not been declared as the State language of Pakistan. Then, Sir, in the Defense Services also the training is imparted in Urdu and English. There also Bengali has been neglected.

The Honourable Mr. Hamidul Huq Chowdhury:

As soon as the Constitution is passed, Bengali will be included.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

That is a very happy thing for me to note. But at present, the training in the Defense Forces is imparted in Urdu and English. Who is responsible for all this discriminatory treatment with Bengali? Or is it being done under the direction, of the Government or the Constituent Assembly has declared Urdu to be the only State language of Pakistan? I want that our men and boys should receive their training in Urdu, Bengali and English, in all the three languages.

As I told you, our West Pakistani brethren are not against Bengali, but the ruling junta, the ruling clique will not allow that to happen; that is the unfortunate part of the whole thing. After all what is the harm if Bengali is also included? If we do not know Urdu, we should learn Urdu and if they do not know Bengali, they should learn Bengali and in these way harmonious relations between the two wings of Pakistan can be brought about.

Of course, they have included it in the Constitution, but there again they are not doing anything practical to show that really they are having Bengali as the State language of Pakistan.

They should know that they cannot bluff the general masses any more and that they have to frame the Constitution in the interest of the country and for the general well-being of the masses and not only for the benefit of the ruling junta.

Now, Sir, they have declared Pakistan and democratic country. May I ask what the meaning of “democracy” is? A parliamentary form of government, in the name of Islam, no doubt. They are giving wide powers to the president-in fact they have given all powers to the President. Sir, we have experience of Mogul dynasty: we know about the Pathan dynasty. But, now let them create another dynasty known as the Chowdhury dynasty in Pakistan.

The present Prime Minister is a Chowdhury and a dynasty should be created in his name because a Constitution will be framed during his tenure of office: Though you will be having a parliamentary form of government, yet you have given the power of dissolution to the Head of the State, which is against and quite country to democratic principles.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

You have two minutes left to: Mrtplete your speech.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Sir, you should give me more time: I have ~c-t been speaking irrelevant and that is why you have not interrupted me once. I am not speaking like my other friends here-I mean like my friend, Mr. Farid Ahmad.

Mr. Abdul Aleem:

Like Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

He was quite to the point throughout his speech and even my honorable friend, Mr. Hamidul Hqu, could not challenge him.
So, Sir, I was speaking about the dynasty. We Muslims have been governed in the past by these dynasties and we are also fit to be governed by them like that and it is, therefore, that I say let there be yet another dynasty known as the Chowdhury dynasty.

And, this they are creating by giving full power, wide powers to the President to dissolve the Assembly. The President has got to be elected indirectly-elected by the Central Legislature along with the Provincial Legislatures, but he can dissolve the directly elected Parliament. That is the power that they have vested in him. He can dismiss Ministers, he can suspend the Constitution by declaring emergency ….

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

All these points have been made by Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

These are new points: points about the new dynasty. My friend, Mr. Abul Mansur Ahmad has given his ideas in a philosophical way. I am not a philosopher, nor am I a good lawyer and therefore I am putting all these things in a direct way. I am a direct man myself.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

You mean the way of expressions is different? (Laughter)

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

My point is that by giving such wide powers to the President, they have virtually created a dynasty. I you permit me, I can read out the whole section to you. They have given power to one man- a person who is not directly elected. The Head of the State can dissolve and elected Parliament though he himself is elected indirectly. He will nominate Chief Minister and the Cabinet who will function according to his advice and during his pleasure.

He will not act on the advice of the Cabinet that is the whole point. So, I say that this is quite contrary to democratic principles. Under the democratic Constitution, the Head of the State is only a figurehead, but unfortunately in Pakistan it is not so. Sir, this work ‘dismissal’ is a sore word in Pakistan. I want that this word “dismissal” is got rid of the sooner the better it is. In Pakistan we he u of so many dismissals. Rather the history is replete with dismissals.

You see one day Mr. Feroze Khan Noon dismissed; next day Mr. Fazlul Haq dismissed and yet another day Mr. Mohammed Ali dismissed and God alone knows when our present Prime Minister will be dismissed. What is this all? There is no stability at all. Are we living in Saudi Arabia or in Pakistan where people can be dismissed?

Mr. Abdul Aleem:

I say, you were also dismissed.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Yes, I was also dismissed and put into jail. I was a Minister in the East Bengal Cabinet; I was dismissed and from Government House I was sent Straight to the Central Jail. I am very happy for that.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

Most unfortunate!

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

No, I was not unfortunate; rather I was happy.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

Good, please carry on.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

So, Sir, that is about dismissals. This dismissal business must stop froth with. This dismissal business is very dangerous in Pakistan.
Now, I come to the question of electorates. Sir, nowhere in any Constitution in the world, you will find that they have provided for electorates in it except perhaps in the case of South Africa where they have two races, the privileged class and the unprivileged class.

They have in South Africa, Indians, Pakistanis and the Aricans. But in Pakistan there is no such difference. But they have deliberately left this provision untouched in the Constitution. Why they have done so?

They want to deceive the minority community living in Pakistan. Sir, I recently had been to East Bengal and there I had the chance of discussing the Constitution with the masses in general. There, the people want joint electorates, but they are helpless, they cannot raise there feeble voice against the Centre and if they dare to do that, the next day the Ministry of Mr. Abu Hussain Sarkar will fall. I fail to understand why they do not want to give joint electorate to the people when they are themselves asking for it.

Nowhere in the world, there are separate electorates excepting in South Africa where they have got two classes, the privileged class and the unprivileged class. Here inspite of the persistent demand by the minority for joint electorates, you are not agreeable to it. What is this all?

Is it democracy or what that you are denying the right to the people to exercise their own free will. I say they had not the moral courage to put down in writing that there shall be joint electorate or separate electorate. They have not the courage to face those masses and therefore they want to hoodwink them. I know the views of the people in Bengal over this Constitution. I had been to Dacca recently.

My friends cannot dare to face the people of East Bengal. Though Mr. Fazlul Huq is considered to be a most popular man, he could not address the public meeting the other day at Dacca. Nobody could hear him, with the result that Mr. Fazlul Huq had to leave the place under the protection of Armed Police. Mr. Abdus Sattar Later on High Court Judge and President of Bangladesh. (East Bengal: Muslim) That is you monopoly,

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: They have absolutely neglected the people of East Bengal in every respect. The people of East Bengal are at one on the question of joint electorate excepting a few Moulanas. Our Moulanas gave fatwa against the joint electorate. They want separate electoragte. But you know, Sir/that many of our Moulanas have come in this House on the basis of joint electorate. Moulana Athar Ali is the Member of this Honourable House.

In East Bengal Hindus and Muslims had jointly voted and Moulana Sahib was elected to this House. But they say that the system of joint electorate is non-Islamic.

They have raised the question of jaiz and na-jaiz on this issue. Sir, this question of jaiz and na-jaiz is very dangerous because for the last eight years of the existence of Pakistan we have been voting jointly in every election of Municipality, District or Union Board, Etc. Here also in the election of the Municipal Corporation of Karachi, the people voted jointly but nobody objected then or no Moulana raised the question of its character being un-Islamic.

What has happened to the recent election to the interim west Pakistan Legislature? Why did they not raise a voice that this election was non-Islamic? Sir, Mr. Khuhro was returned and saved because of the votes of the Hindus. It is because of the system of joint electorate that he got himself returned.

Now, Sir, you have seen’ that during all these- years we have had joint electorate. But now they say that if you ask for joint electorate, you are acting against Islam; you are going against Quran and Sunna. If it is a sin or accepted, we will go to hell. So, they say to ask for a joint electorate, it is a sin or a crime. Sir, if it a sin or a crime then how we would be pardoned by God for committing crimes for eight long years by voting in our elections jointly?

Our fathers and grand-fathers voted jointly and perhaps for this reason they are living in the hell. I shudder to think how Allah will pardon then because for years and years together they voted jointly in the lections of Municipalities, District and Union Boards, etc. These-Moulanas have been giving this fatwa. They are crying hoarse that the joint electorate is anti-Islamic. According to the fatwa, Sir, the Muslims all over the world are kafirs because they vote jointly.

I will justly point out how the Muslims of different countries are voting jointly, and yet they are the true followers of Islam. In India the four crores of Muslims are voting jointly. In Indonesia, the Muslims, Christians, the Chinese and Buddhists, they are all voting jointly. Seven crores of Muslims in Indonesia who are also staunch followers of Islam vote with the Christians and other communities. In Burma Buddhists and Christians vote with Muslims.

In Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iran, everywhere the Muslims are giving joint votes with Christians and Jews, etc., and still they are the true Muslims. You know out of 50 crores of the Muslims population of the world, we have 6 crores of the Muslims and if we accept joint electorate, we would be kafirs as all the Muslims are already kafirs according to the argument and faiwa of these Moulanas.

Therefore, you have seen, Sir, that everywhere Muslims are voting jointly. But if we incorporate joint electronate in our Constitution, we would be acting against Islam and every Muslim who says La Illaha-Illal-Lah will be kafir. In East BBengal this sort of fatwa is daily pronounced and lot of money is being spent by the zamindars-money is coming from the backdoor-to launch propaganda in large scale against the joint electorate.

Then, Sir, I come to the question of parity. We accepted parity because, as my Leader has rightly told, we wanted to prove that we the Muslims of both wings of Pakistan are one nation. We accepted this parity between East and West wings because the Muslims of Pakistan are one nation. In our passports for the foreign countries, it is written “Pakistani Christians”, “Pakistani Muslims”, “Pakistan “ersis”, “Pakistani Buddhists”.

We have spent mony for that to show that we are Pakistani Muslims, Pakistani Christians, Pakistani Buddhists, Pakistani Persis. So you can understand the position.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: You have already taken forty minutes.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: I have only two or three points to deal with. I hope my friends would also allow me to speak.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: Your friends will give you the same advice.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: My friends will give me some privilege because they know I speak like that. Now, Sir, I come to Railways. Sir, in this Draft Constitution Bill power has been given to the President who will appoint an authority; I cannot understand what they think about the people of Pakistan.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: Where has it been provided?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: It has been provided in the Draft Constitution Bill. One member will be nominated by the Centre
Mr. Abul Munsur Ahmad: By the President.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: One by the President, two by the East Bengal Government. Then, Sir, East Bengal Assembly will have no power to discuss their budget and similarly West Pakistan Assembly will have no right to discuss their Railway budget and how its administration is going on.

Then it has been provided that if future Parliament thinks to take over the control of the Railway from the Provincial administration, the Central Government can take it back any time because the emergency provision to this effect has been provided there. They have given absolutely nothing to the Provinces. Sir, the railways of East Bengal has been absolutely ruined during the last eight years.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: I shall allow you to speak on it when the relevant clause comes up for discussion.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sir, what I want to point out is this that they have given it to the provincial list. I want to prove it that actually it is not so.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Do it at the proper time. I shall allow you at that stage.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: At least allow me to point out about the Railway at this stage. I will then go to the regional autonomy and finish my speech.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: I shall not allow you to go into details.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sir, I will show to you how these people have taken our engines from East Bengal; how they have taken our saloons; how they have spent our money.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: How have they taken these?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: By air, by sea, by ship, by steamer. We can come to this side via India. Sir Railway is commercial subject. The administration of any subject in East Pakistan from distant Karachi is a well-nigh impossibility. It would be well exemplified from gross mismanagement and bunglings that have taken place in the administration of Eastern Bengal Railway during the last eight years.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Where are you quoting from?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

It is my note. I have to point out many facts and so I have prepared this note. I am not an old Parliamentarian like you and so I cannot speak extempore like you. I was also not a very good student.

Now, Sir, East Bengal Railway, though a Government enterprise, a purely commercial concern, and a proper accounting is the core of a commercial organization. East Bengal Railway keeps it accounts separate from that of the Government and keeps a separate. Accounts Department, only its total receipts and outgoings on revenue accounts month by month, enter into the monthly returns of the Accountant-General of Pakistan Revenues as a separate item.

The difference between these incomings and outgoing over number of years, must necessarily show whether East Pakistan Railway has been a profitable concern. During the last seven years from the last April, 1948 to 31st March, 1955, Eastern Bengal Railway has yielded a net profit of Rs. 146 lakhs or 21 lakhs a year.

But the management of the Railway maintains that the same cannot be taken as the net profit of the Railway, because it has other expenses, which though not incurred in the past, shall have to be incurred in future and as such Eastern Bengal Railway has been a losing concern.

Again, in the Profit and Loss Accounts of Eastern Bengal Railway in the Appropriation Accounts of Pakistan Railway, Part II of 1946-50, which have been certified by the General Manager, and the Chief Auditor, and which accounts are immutable and unchangeable and presented before the Legislature as such, it is found that E.B. Railway had a net profit of Rs. 139 lakhs in 1949-50.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Who wrote this note for you?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: I myself wrote it. I know how to make notes. What do you think of me, Sir?

Honourable Deputy Speaker: You said you would be reading from a note.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Yes, from a note of mine and I am entitled to read it. I am reading from my notes because there are some facts and figures which I cannot give you extempore.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Then it is part of your speech and note a note.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Yes, Sir, I had prepared a long speech, but you have curtailed the time.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: That is right. Do not call it a note. Call it a part of your speech and read on.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: All right, Sir. I call it a part of my speech. So, Sir, E.B. Railway had a net profit of Rs. 159 lakhs in 1948-49 and a net profit of Rs. 139 lakhs in 1949-50. But Annexure ‘G’, page 51 of the Appropriation Accounts, Part I of the Pakistan.

Railway, 1951-52 show that E.B. Railway suffered a loss of Rs. 95 lakhs in 1949-49 and a loss of Rs. 107 lakhs in 1949-50. Such reversal of certified and immutable account is not only preposterous and unthinkable in any commercial concern but the same is even actionable in law.

To add to the wonders, the present management of the Railway still tries to argue out this too obvious contradiction in their accounts in 1948-49 and 1949-50 that they had some other accounts of debits, not taken into consideration in the Profit and Loss Accounts of these two years.

The management at the same time vehemently maintains that profit and loss accounts to those years are perfectly correct. Explanation cannot possibly be clumsier and more stupid.

In a word, E.B. Railway must have been a profitable concern, though it has made only a nominal profit as is shown in the positive difference between the incoming and outgoings of E.B. Railway in the Accountant General, Pakistan Revenue’s returns. But from 1950-51, it has been a deliberate effort of the Railway administration to represent E.B. Railway as a losing concern throughout, even by reversing previous accounts to cover up their gross mismanagement and bunglings of the worst type.

In fact, if E. B. Railway administration was only tolerable efficient, it could have earned a respectable amount of profit in place of a nominal profit of Rs. 21 lakhs a year. Even the profit and loss accounts in the Appropriation Accounts of Pakistan Railway underestimate profit by deducting from gross earnings an average charge of about Rs. 120 lakhs a year for the entire capital account of the E. B. Railway assets, the bulk of which has been received as an inheritance from pre-partition India and not. Formed by any subsequent capital expenditure.

The entire interest charge has moreover been made over to the Central Railway Reserve Fund rather than to the Reserve fund of the E. B. Railway. Moreover appropriation the depreciation fund, from the gross earnings have also worked out to an annual average of Rs. 99 lakhs.

Accounting apart, expenses of the E.B. Railway were unnecessarily inflated by purchasing f from Japan 25 MGYD class locomotives at a cost of Rs. 150 lakhs, 10 diesel engines at a cost of Rs. I crore, 13 XB engines at 1 crore and 700 wagons at a cost of Rs. 210 lakhs, in all costing Rs. 560 lakhs, all of which are lying idle and cannot be used.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Very interesting, but all of it is irrelevant.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: I am sorry, Sir, but I have to finish it.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Please, finish it quickly.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: All right, Sir, the losses due to this only works up to Rs. 80 lakhs a year. Moreover nine old but good engines of E. B. Railway were made over to North Western Railway at their depreciated book values and in their place nine diesel engines were bought by E. B. Railway on which interest charge was made heavier hereby. Again E. B. Railway has suffered an average annual loss of Rs. 12 lakhs a year, by maintaining a surplus staff of per-partition India and by giving expatriation allowance of about Rs. 2 lakhs a year for employees perfering domicile in the Western wing of the country.

If E. B. Railway were and are even tolerably efficiently managed, it could easily give and can give an annual profit of Rs. 300 lakhs. Aquestion may be asked here, how could E. B. Railway mismanage and bungle its affairs so badly as to bring it to the level of nearly no profit. The answer is simple. The Railway Division of the Ministry of Communications could not maintain any effective control from distant Karachi on the Chittagong management who worked like little dictators and did whatever they liked.

It has been the general experience that whenever control and check on commercial concerns have been slack, bunglings have inevitable taken place. E. B. Railway also has not been an exception. Karachi administration could not maintain any effective check on the Chittagong Railway authorities, while East Pakistan Government and the public were helpless onlookers of the bunglings that little Railway dictators perpetrated there.

It should, therefore, be frankly admitted that commercial concerns like Railway in East Bengal cannot be administered from distant Karachi and as such the same should be controlled locally as a Provincial subject. Now, you know, Sir. ……
Honourable Deputy Speaker: You have had 50 minutes as against the time limit of 30 minutes.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:Please give me a few minutes more.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Five minutes only.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: No, Sir, give me 15 minutes more, and I will try to finish.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: I shall see to that;

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sir, there is control everywhere in Pakistan and here also you have put a control on us.

Honourable Deputy Speaker: Have you lost something?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: No, Sir, I wanted to say one thing more about East Bengal Railway. Just a second. Sir. There are four heads of departments and none of them is Bengale. Deputy head of departments are four and Bangaiee is only one. So this is the position. Anyhow, I have done with it and now I am going to other points-about regional autonomy which is the demand of the people of East Bengal.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

This, I hope, is your last point, because t is also your last chance.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: If you give me 15 minutes, Sir, I shall try to finish and if I cannot finish in 15 minutes I will sit down. So, Sir, I was speaking about the Defense and my friend, Mr. Abul Mansur, has told you so many points, but I want to add one or two points more. You know, Sir, sometimes they say how many Bangalees are in that department. Now I want to tell you about these points.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

These points are irrelevant.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Why, Sir, It is a question of regional autonomy. We, the poor Bangalees want our due share.
Honourable Deputy Speaker: But that will come when you are discussing it clause by clause. You will have your chance to say all these things at that time. Why do you to say all of it just now?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

All rights, Sir. I must obey your orders. Then, I was speaking about regional autonomy and parity in all respects. Now that is a very interesting point. Sir, no doubt, about it. Now they ask to-as why we want regional autonomy. Sir, is it against Islam also? I do not know when he fatwah will come from our Maulanas that this is also against Islam as my friend, Mr. Farid Ahmad Chowdhury, said.

Mr. Abdul Aleem:

He is not Chowdhury.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

I know. He is Mr. Farid Ahmad. He is a friend of mine.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

I do not know whether all that you have said is against the Rules. (Laughter)
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: No, Sir, It is one of the fundmental principles of the Constitution. Many points have been said about it and I want that these points should be added up to them.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

Go on. Add up.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

My friends say, why you want regional autonomy. It is not in the 21-Point Programme. It is a vague thing. I wish my friend Mr. Farid Ahmad could say this thing to the people who have elected him. You know, Sir, when elections come people give you a manifesto and this 21-Point Programme was given by the people. They voted for us on the basis of this 21-Point programme.

They never voted for Mr. Suhrawardy or for Mr. Fazlul Huq or for Maulana Bhashani. The people voted for these 21 point, otherwise these people who have been elected and have come here, would not have come to this Constituent Assembly in the whole of their lifetime. This thing is categorically said in clause 1 and if you will permit me to read it as you have permitted others, I shall show it to you.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

This has been read before.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Sir, with Defense, Foreign Affairs and Currency, the Central Government can be a strong Central Government.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

We have heard this argument from Mr. Abul Mansur. We want some new arguments.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Sir, I am not going into details. I am only referring to ti. Our friends say that with the three subjects, it will be a weak Centre, but Sir, we can prove that it will be a strong Centre. Sir, why are the people of East Bengal for the last eight years fighting for regional autonomy? Sir, unfortunately there is no more time at my disposal, but if you permit me I can show you what injustice they have done to the people of East Bengal.

Sir, according to Mr. Gurmani, East Bengal used to pay 25 percent of revenues to the Central Government. They say that it later decreased to 20 percent and now it is only 14 percent. This is what they say. So, it is decreasing day by day. According to this decrease, Sir, in 1960 it will be nil. East Bengal is so ruined.

Honourable Deputy Speaker:

So, Mr. Abul Mansur also informed us. (Laughter)

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

Sir, I am only pointing it out to you. Sir, it is like this: there are two hands to the body of Pakistan. One is West Pakistan and the other is East Pakistan. They are making one hand strong and the other hand weak. Sir, this policy is wrong and will ruin the country. In the Central Government Services, those who from 56 percent population are not getting 5 percent share. The East Bengal people are educated, but they are not getting their share.

Sir, we do not blame the West Pakistan people. In fact we want autonomy for them also. If East Pakistan gets autonomy, the West Pakistan people will also get autonomy.

We blame the ruling junta. These jagirdars, zamindars, these big landlords and ruling junta of West Pakistan. They are so much suppressed, they cannot cry, they cannot demand, but the people of East Pakistan are politically conscious. They challenge anybody and everybody. They challenge Mr. Fazlul Haq, Mr. Suhrawardy, Moulana Bhashani; they challenge their leaders. They tell their leaders, “you have done this wrong and we will not vote for you”, but they have been suppressed, persecuted and they have been economically ruined.

They have no land; no shelter. But, Sir, we have nothing against the people of West Pakistan but against the ruling junta, who have entered the Constituent assembly through the backdoor. One who were not even in the district board and have become Foreign Minister of Pakistan and such people want to speak on behalf of the people of East Pakistan and say that the people of East Bengal support this draft constitution. Sir, I have just come from East Pakistan and know the mind of the people there.

I know that they have rejected this non-Islamic, undemocratic and dictatorial Constitution, and it cannot be accepted by the people of Pakistan, Particularly the people of East Pakistan. These people are thinking that they will sit in Karachi like Mr. Pathan he will never go back to East Pakistan; he is domiciled here. So these people are also thinking that they will earn some money and make a house here.

They cannot go back because they are going against the demand of full regional autonomy, which is the demand of the people. You can kill us. You can jail us. Some times we hear that our lives are in danger, but we are not afraid. We have been elected by the people on the basis of 21-point programme, on the basis of regional autonomy. They can betray but we cannot. Mr. Abdul Aleem: We have never betrayed.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Sir, the people of East Bengal will never accept the draft Constitution. You can arrest us. You have already arrested our friends and you will arrest more. I would appeal to my friend Hon’ble Mr. Chundrigar, who fought in the federal Court about the dissolved Constituent Assembly and who has fortunately become the Law Minister now, to frame the Constitution on the basis of 21-point programme.

If you want to push through the Constitution, you could do so, but if you press this constitution then you are playing with fire. I have just now come from East Bengal, and I know the sentiments of the people there, of the agriculturists, the poor businessmen and other people of East Bengal. If you push through this constitution, God alone knows that will happen. We want that Pakistan should be saved from the ruling junta for the poor masses, who have achieved Pakistan after great sacrifices.

These people who are now ruling were not 2-anna members in the struggle for Pakistan. They want to destroy Pakistan in the name of Islam. If you frame the Constitution of the basis of 21-point programme, we will cooperate with you, we will join you, but if you go against the wishes of the people we will mobilize opinion not only in East Pakistan but also in West Pakistan against this dictatorial and undemocratic Constitution.

If you agree to pass a democratic Constitution, we will help you to pass it within seven days, even within three days, but that Constitution should be on the democratic basis of 21-point programme, otherwise we will oppose it tooth and nail.

[ The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, 21 Jan, 1956 : Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech ]

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